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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1832968, 13 pages
Review Article

Regulatory T Cells and Their Prognostic Relevance in Hematologic Malignancies

1Hematology and Stem Cell Transplantation Unit, IRCCS Cancer Referral Center of Basilicata, Rionero in Vulture, Italy
2Division of Hematology, AOU Città della Salute e della Scienza di Torino, University of Torino, Torino, Italy
3Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences, University of Torino, Torino, Italy
4Dipartimento di Biochimica, Biofisica e Patologia Generale, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Napoli, Italy
5Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Regional Reference Centre for Coagulation Disorders, “Federico II” University, Napoli, Italy
6Department of Pharmacology, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy
7Department of Biomedical and Dental Sciences and Morphological and Functional Sciences, University of Messina, Messina, Italy
8Hematology Institute, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy
9Scientific Direction, IRCCS Cancer Referral Center of Basilicata, Rionero in Vulture, Italy
10Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Research, Department of Internal Medicine, IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria San Martino-IST-Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Giovanni D’Arena

Received 17 August 2017; Accepted 14 November 2017; Published 21 December 2017

Academic Editor: Wenxin Zheng

Copyright © 2017 Giovanni D’Arena et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Regulatory T cells (Tregs) have a fundamental function in monitoring the immune homeostasis in healthy individuals. In cancer and, in particular, in hematological malignancies, Tregs exert a major immunosuppressive activity, thus playing a critical role in tumor cell growth, proliferation, and survival. Here, we summarize published data on the prognostic significance of Tregs in hematological malignancies and show that they are highly conflicting. The heterogeneity of the experimental approaches that were used explains—at least in part—the discordant results reported by different groups that have investigated the role of Tregs in cancer. In fact, different tissues have been studied (i.e., peripheral blood, bone marrow, and lymph node), applying different methods (i.e., flow cytometry versus immunohistochemistry, whole blood versus isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells versus depletion of CD25+ cells, various panels of monoclonal antibodies, techniques of fixation and permeabilization, and gating strategies). This is of relevance in order to stress the need to apply standardized approaches in the study of Tregs in hematological malignancies and in cancer in general.